By JAMIE PARSELL
The last time I got serious about TV, D.J. Tanner and Steve Urkel were household names and a “Full House” was the only thing that mattered on a Friday night. I never missed TGIF.
Since then, I have been non-committal on television shows. I had brief attachments to shows like “Desperate Housewives,” “CSI” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” But as the seasons dragged on, I fell off the fan wagon. I blame the time between the season finale and fall premier. Too much life — hobbies, work, friends and evenings out— fill up the evening and by fall, I am not ready for the cool nights of autumn. I think the promos and advertising are great; I want to like each new show with its flashy theme music and interesting plots. But I miss the premiers and first new episodes in late September and early fall. By the time I am ready to watch, the lead actress has already left her husband, accidentally killed a patient or worse, the network has yanked the show off the air.
In our culture, a favorite TV show is equal to one’s favorite color. It’s as if it sheds light on one’s complexity. What does that say about my personality, the fact that I don’t have a particular favorite television show at the moment? I sometimes wonder if I could give up TV. My limited cable package still shocks many who have more than 200 channels. I have less than 15 channels. Despite my lack of TV, I am not living in the dark ages. I have a subscription to Netflix, which allows users to watch entire television series and movies on computers. You can even purchase an adapter and cable to connect a laptop to the TV for better viewing. If that doesn’t work, you can watch Netflix through your smartphone. Other folks, who have DVRs, can record shows on a whim and watch them later.
I have realized one reason why I am not plugged into many shows is my desire to watch TV on my time, not the time listed in the “TV Guide.” I can’t keep up with times and dates, which makes technology-friendly alternatives better. Part of my job is posting interesting pop culture stories from the Associated Press on the BDT website and putting together the Friday entertainment edition of “Medley,” which features local and national stories. I read about all kinds of new shows and movies, only to add them to my list of possible choices. So far, a few have made it into my living room. Full disclosure: I avoid reading spoilers. I might be a bit late to the party, but here are a few of my latest ventures into pop culture.
The sixth season of “Mad Men” premiers on April 7 with a two-hour premier on AMC. Of course, I am stuck at the end of season four; Netflix has yet to release season five on their website. (One of the downfalls of using Netflix is waiting for releases). The initial appeal of the show — besides handsome and brooding main character Don Draper — was the setting of the show. The advertising world in the ’60s is pure pop culture genius in New York City. Where else can you watch advertisers try to convince the public that cigarettes are healthy? Or see housewives model lipstick and vacuum cleaners? Viewers can watch America shift and view the rise of women in the workplace.
A Lifetime television hit, my mom and her friends watched this show like my friends and I watched “Full House.” They loved the main characters and the funny, but yet unbelievable plot — a model dies and goes to heaven, but comes back as a frumpy lawyer. Of course, it isn’t smooth sailing and Jane finds herself in plenty of funny predicaments. One evening, after watching an episode with Mom, I decided to look up the series and start at the pilot episode. It isn’t groundbreaking TV, but good, clean entertainment. Sometimes TV needs to be lighthearted and simple. The show was canceled last year, but millions of fan petitioned the network. As a result, Lifetime announced they would resume filming in 2013. My Mom is extremely happy about this development.
I had read numerous reviews of the PBS Masterpiece Theater’s “Downton Abbey” at work, but a few friends on Facebook began posting about the show every week. Curious, I decided to watch the first episode. And then a second. Now, I can’t wait for my nightly trip to England. The show is a reminder of many families in my favorite Jane Austen novels. In the first episode of “Downton Abbey,” marriage is an important issue, as well as money. And as any reader of Austen knows, the same issues face families in novels like “Pride and Prejudice” and “Persuasion.” The British, with their afternoon tea, have risen to the top of my TV picks.
Its a hard life right now for this TV fan. In a world of constant information, I am doing my best to avoid discovering the outcomes of all three TV shows. The newsroom is a walking spoiler alert. Someday I feel the need to walk around with my hands covering my ears. So readers, please don’t give away the endings, or judge my viewing tastes.
And yes, I have heard about those zombies running around on “The Walking Dead.” Maybe later. I don’t think zombies fit into my afternoon tea schedule.
Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BDTParsell.